Former SCSU Goalie Mike Lee Returns To Minnesota Saturday As NHL Player [VIDEO]
Former St. Cloud State goaltender Mike Lee was called up to the NHL's Arizona Coyotes from Gwinnett (GA) of the ECHL on January 15th. Lee has played in just five games this season after missing over a year following hip surgery.
Lee posted a 1-3-1 record with the Gladiators this season before his call-up, allowing an average of 2.98 goals per game and saving .897 percent of shots he has faced.
After a standout season with the Fargo Force of the USHL, Lee was drafted in the third round (#91 overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. The Roseau native went on to play 74 games with St. Cloud State, posting a 32-29-9 record in three seasons before forgoing his senior year to join Gwinnett.
Since 2012 Lee has bounced back and forth between Gwinnett and the Coyotes' AHL affiliate in Portland.
Lee says playing in Georgia, and the ECHL, has been a good experience.
"There are some nice cities in that league, playing in Florida and South Carolina," Lee said. "The weather is great, great facility and great people so nothing to complain about."
On Saturday, Lee was in his home state of Minnesota with the Coyotes to take on the Minnesota Wild. The game was part of Hockey Day Minnesota, which features high school games, a college game at Mariucci Arena and the Wild all televised on Fox Sports North.
Lee became the first player to participate in all three levels of the event on Saturday having previously played for Roseau High School in 2008 (a 1-0 Rams shutout), for SCSU in their 4-1 win against the Gophers in 2010 and now the NHL's Coyotes.
"It's really cool, it's something I didn't realize until (Friday)," Lee said. "It brings back good memories playing for St. Cloud obviously, and playing for Roseau."
Lee says he was "surprised and excited" to get the call to the NHL. "I'm sure everybody goes through the same thing," Lee said. "I put in a lot of hard work to get here."
"It's been nice to get a taste, for sure," Lee said. "I just try to help out in practice, do whatever I can and relish the opportunity."
A number of players from St. Cloud State have recently made the jump to the professional ranks including Ben Hanowski (Calgary Flames), Drew LeBlanc (Chicago Blackhawks), Nic Dowd (Manchester/LA Kings), Kevin Gravel (Manchester/LA) and Lee's former understudy Ryan Faragher (Utah/Anaheim Ducks).
"I'm happy to put the name of the progam out there and happy that the team has been doing well," Lee said. "We are all going through the same things, so it's nice to (keep in touch) with guys going through the same experiences."
Whether or not Lee gets in to a game in his stint with the Coyotes remains to be seen, as he says he has not been given a timetable as to when he might play.
"I have no clue, I just show up and get in the net when they tell me to," Lee said. "That's all you can do."
Lee had a number of friends and family at the game, and got to see some family that he wasn't able to see around the holidays.
"It was a bit of an expensive night, but it was good," Lee said. "It was good, it was nice of my parents to get down here. I wasn't able to see my dad at Christmastime so it was good to see him."